Tuesday, December 12, 2006

BREAKING NEWS: Browns, Clear Channel Renew Through 2008 with Option

If new sports talk WKNR/850 owner Good Karma Broadcasting was thinking of putting together some package to pick up the radio rights to the NFL Cleveland Browns, they're gonna have to wait.

The team and Clear Channel have announced a multi-year extension of the agreement between the football team and the local radio cluster. The new pact runs through the 2008 season, with a club option to extend it another year through the 2009 season.

Quoting a Clear Channel press release:

“We are thrilled to extend our relationship with the Cleveland Browns,” said Mike Kenney, President & Market Manager for Clear Channel Radio. “Our highly successful partnership with the Browns allows fans from all over the region to follow Cleveland Browns Football at home, at work, at the stadium, or wherever they travel. The heritage of WMMS and WTAM within the community is the perfect match with the heritage of the Cleveland Browns.”

And from the Browns' end:

“We are excited to continue our partnership with Clear Channel”, said Browns CFO Michael Keenan. “We believe the wide array of quality sports and news programming Clear Channel provides will benefit Browns fans everywhere.”

The release does indeed state that rock WMMS/100.7 will continue to be the Browns flagship, with WTAM/1100 continuing to take its traditional AM flagship role when it doesn't have Indians or Cavaliers conflicts.

While the sports radio landscape was shaken up recently by Good Karma's purchase of long-lumbering sports outlet WKNR, there weren't a lot of people betting on any other outcome for the Browns rights.

One of Good Karma's biggest hurdles was beyond its control, if owner Craig Karmazin was even thinking of trying to get the Browns rights - it owns no FM stations in the market.

Any attempt to dislodge the Browns from Clear Channel would have to involve an FM station, and some point out that they're not entirely sure Good Karma would feel good about partnering with, say, CBS Radio...there is family history there, and it's not really favorable.

With the Browns locked up at Oak Tree, and the Indians and Cavaliers both in long-term contracts with Clear Channel as well, the new WKNR will have to focus on Other Things... like, perhaps, local sports talk programming that may remind one of an early spot on Mr. Karmazin's resume, WIP/610 in Philadelphia...


Pat Cloonan said...

Given Clear Channel's stranglehold on Pittsburgh sports play-by-play, the only thing one tunes to Disney's WEAE-1250 (ESPN) for is all the sports news one's unlikely to get on Clear Channel's WBGG-970 (Fox Sports) ... as well as Penn State and all the national stuff ESPN feeds its Pittsburgh O&O. So I understand what the new AM 850 faces ... it just has to get a reputation for good sports talk.

Incidentally, interesting that CBS bucks its own trend (i.e., KDKA losing the Pirates, et al) to renew for $70 million its contract to carry the Yankees on WCBS-880 in the Big Apple.

Anonymous said...

Did Clear Channel drop Pat Butler? Any news there?

74WIXYGrad said...

Pat Butler is on vacation this week

Anonymous said...

Well now let's see what C.C. has to offer. Now that there is going to be a viable alternative to cookie cutter radio. Polish up your stick boys the same old bits and stupid bathroom humor isn't going to cut the mustard anymore.

Anonymous said...

Most (if not all) NFL teams have both an AM and FM flagship station.

There are 3 companies in Cleveland that have both AM and FM:

Clear Channel, Salem, Radio One.

Can anyone honestly see the Browns on the Fish?

Would Radio One pony up the cash to put the Browns on WERE/WZAK?

That leaves Clear Channel.

They have a 50kW gorilla AM, a choice of 5 FM stations to simulcast on, and more $ than the competition is either able to or willing to spend.

Unless Mr. Karmazin gets himself an FM, the Browns ain't going anywhere.

Anonymous said...

From my own calculations, the only available FM station worth pursuing in a Browns partnership is Elyria-licensed and Cleveland-marketed WNWV/107.3. Note that when WKNR/1220 had the rights in the mid-90's, WDOK/102.1 was the FM partner. Note that WKNR and WDOK were not co-owned at the time.

(In a sharp irony, WNWV's direct sister station WEOL is the Browns affiliate for Lorain County. WEOL even refused to carry the games in the early 70's as Malrite - who owned then-flagship WHK/1420 - tried to get the games ALSO aired on WNWV's predecessor, WBEA. Needless to say, ELB balked.)

- Nathan Obral